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April 20, 2013
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Hi nhoJ, sorry that I've also been away... I didn't forget and have just thoroughly read your excellent post. I just wanted to recognise your trouble and effort, and I think I will do a couple of re-reads and formulate some follow-up points/questions. Thanks!
@nhoJ I'm looking forward to the end of your assignment ;)
@Leah17 In my opinion, if you are not looking to write a clinical or academic psychology essay, then you could quite justifiably use "subconsciously" in your example, given its dictionary definition. If you came home and didn't realise that it was you who had locked the door, then perhaps "unconsciously" would be more appropriate?
However, I should stress that this is just my reading of the situation, from an interested layman's point of view, rather than an academic one. For example, "nhoJ" has clearly studied the subject in detail and can give an excellent reading from that point of view. I hope I didn't complicate things for you :)
Cool, thanks. I appreciate the suggestion. I will try to track it down.
no problem, nhoJ... get that work done! :D
Renee, thanks for the different perspective, which adds something else to think about. I'll try to be more conscious of what I say in front of the [possibly not] unconscious! Actually, that raises an interesting question as to what state a sleeping person is in, as opposed to someone who has been knocked out unconscious.
@Warsaw Will: As an ESL teacher, I couldn't agree more about your interpretation of that particular linguistics professor's definition of an adjective... to think that some people consider the finer points of English inaccessible :D
@nhoJ: thank you for your perfectly reasonable cross-examination of the use of "subconscious"... you are respectful in the way that you make your point. However, you haven't convinced me of the fact that the term "subconscious" is misleading... I accept that students of psychology have an aversion to this word but I am still to be convinced that its concept is invalid. You say that it doesn't work on any technical level, but I truly would welcome an explanation that is satisfactory to the layman, other than "you wouldn't understand, so why bother" (with respect, that hasn't been your tone)
PS, I completely accept the word "unconscious" as a noun, in terms of the thoughts that we cannot typically access, although I fear that may have been a joke that was over my head? Am I paranoid? :D
I feel that anyone deriding the use of a word in every commonly-used dictionary (that word being "subconscious") should attempt to step down from their obnoxiously high horse. It is perfectly reasonable to say that the term is not typically used in academic or clinical circles, but it is not respectful to look down on people who use the term correctly as defined by a dictionary. We should all try to be respectful of different realms of society and discussion, and if education is required, can we try to educate without condescending?
With that said, here is my twopence worth, coming from someone with zero background in academic or clinical psychology :D
Subconscious - the origin of this word as an adjective precedes Freud, as it was first used by De Qunicey, in 1823, to mean "not wholly conscious". Although this description is fairly ambiguous, I would use "subconscious" as an adjective to describe thoughts/actions that take place 'passively' in the mind... in other words, the person does not make a deliberate effort to think or do what is being thought or done, and is not aware of any intent that exists.
Unconscious - again the adjective is older than the clinical/academic usage, originating in 1712 to mean "unaware, not marked by conscious thought". To me, this would mainly describe memories/thoughts that cannot be triggered by the conscious/subconscious (although possibly could be accessed through methods such as hypnosis/pharmacology). For example, a repressed memory could be described as unconscious. I think it could also be attributed to actions such as snoring, or the reflex of a crossed leg kicking out due to a tap below the knee... these are done without thought or intention; they are unconscious actions.
I find myself most closely agreeing with those who have laid out the three strata of conscious, subconscious, and unconscious, although I accept that the main point of this is trying to visualise how our thoughts work, rather than serving as a complete explanation.
Again, I have not studied any of these areas in any great detail, and my opinions are purely based on trying to make sense of the terms through a combination of life experience, dictionary definitions, reason, and ultimately "what makes sense to me".
In general, I have thoroughly enjoyed this discussion, and I hope we can steer away from sneering over people that apply words in a way that does not conform to one's own. Derision is not debate :)
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